The Bagel Shop (Bandra, Mumbai)

There is something utterly repugnant about the dainty, new age “cafes” that have sprung up around Bandra. Although cafe – a small restaurant serving light food by definition – seems to be ‘passé’ in usage for the ultra chic, pretentious crowd that frequents such dens of pomposity.

A thirty something dating duo on my right discuss the inegalitarian status of women in India, while the fair lady (not My Fair Lady! ) outside sits in a crossed legged yoga position, sipping a mug of tea with both hands. Even my dining partner feels the need to extol the spiritual virtues of travel and the implications of my ever impending corporate “burnout”. All the while, I’m wrenched up against a hard cold painted wall with barely a cushion in a sight, loathing every minute of this menagerie of spiritual do-goodery.

It seems almost an interminable wait for the food, whilst I Wikipedia the cure for lumbago (lower back pain to you and me), which apparently affects 40% of humanity at some point in time – maybe 80% if you sit indoors at The Bagel Shop more than once a year.

My Thai Sweetcorn Soup arrives in an oversized white mug; perhaps the most risibly ineloquent presentation I have seen to date of any soup, anywhere. I am reminded of the powder sachet “make in a mug” soups that are so dehydrated and impervious to the elements, that they make the perfect addition to any doomsday, disaster food supply kit. The soup is about as subtle as a hand grenade in a gas station and there is further misery at the bottom of the mug where uncooked peppers and smatterings of rice noodles are found lurking. I call for a toasted bagel on the side, as the two pilfering pieces of lavash criss-crossed on top are no match for my insatiable appetite. The wholemeal bagel was lovely and I would have had much more joy eating bread and water than having to deal with the ordeal of this Thai soup and the blueberry soy milkshake.

The blueberry soy milkshake was devoid of any taste. Only the most versatile of fruits like mangoes can cut it on their own when blended with milk or yoghurt. At least a swirl of honey or maple syrup or even a chopped banana might have helped resurrect such a pedestrian and overpriced milkshake.

I feel there is a certain section of society that finds it very undignified to complain about food (just look at the streams of rave reviews that adorn the annals of Zomato) and then there are those Bagel Shop dwellers, who seem so disinterested in the fare and prefer lofty discussion of world peace, women’s liberation and yoga postures. In keeping with the high falutin spirits of these beings, I would leave them with the words of one of the greats of Twentieth Century Literary Modernism:

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”

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